A Handbook of the Sociology of Religion

By Michele Dillon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO
Religious Social Movements in the Public Sphere
Organization, Ideology, and Activism
Rhys H. Williams

When Americans want to change something about their society, they often do so by forming, or participating in, a social movement. And when Americans commit their time, money, and energy to some organization outside their immediate families, it is highly probable that it will be to a religious organization. Thus, it is not surprising that religious organizations have been intimately involved with social movements throughout American history; nor is it surprising, given the general religiousness of the American people, that so many social movements have been grounded in religious values and ideas.

These religiously based social movements have ranged across centuries, issues, and the liberal-to-conservative spectrum. Outstanding examples from the nineteenth century include the Abolitionist Movement, the American Protective Association (an antiimmigrant organization), the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and the AntiSaloon League (anti-alcohol). The twentieth century has witnessed such movements as the Social Gospel Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the New Christian Right (and its constituent organizations such as the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition), Operation Rescue (anti-abortion), and Pax Christi (antiwar and nuclear weapons). Religion has been and continues to be a source of people, organizations, and ideas for many attempts at fostering or resisting social change. It can provide the organizational bases, the rhetorical messages, and the motivated adherents that are necessary for social movements to mobilize and be effective.

This chapter will make two arguments. First, as indicated above, I will discuss the ways in which religion and religious communities form natural bases for social movement activism. While this is of course not all that religion does, its affinity for motivating people to try and change the world makes for a natural alignment of religion and social change movements. Second, I will discuss recent developments in American politics and public life that have required social movements to change some of the ways in which they operate. In so doing, religiously based social movements face some challenges now that they did not previously. How they respond to those challenges is

Parts of this essay were delivered as a conference presentation at the Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut in April 1999. They subsequently appeared in a monograph published by the Center, and edited by Mark Silk, Religion and American Politics: The 2000 Election in Context (2000). The author thanks Mark Silk and the Center for permission to use the material.

-315-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A Handbook of the Sociology of Religion
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 481

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.